Game | #4694 | 

Season | 2000-01 |

Matchday | #34 |

League Game | #26 |
Premier League Match-week | #27 |

Manager Game | #144 |

Saturday, 24 February 2001

Premier League | Away | Derby County | Pride Park | 27,289 | 

Game Summary

Manager | John Gregory | 

KO | 15.00 |
Referee | Alan Wiley | 

HT Score | 0-1 |
FT Score | 0-1 |

FT Result | Lost |

Last 5 Games | LLWDL | 

League Position | 14th | -1 |

Line Up |

GK David James | 
LB Steve Staunton | 
LB Alan Wright | 
SUB OFF | 64' |
CB Alpay Özalan | 
M Gareth Barry | 
M Ian Taylor | 
SUB OFF | 74' |
M George Boateng | BOOKED | 55' |
M Steve Stone | 
M Paul Merson | 
CF Juan Pablo Ángel |
SUB OFF | 46' |
CF Dion Dublin | 

Substitutes |

F Julian Joachim for CF Juan Pablo Ángel | 46’ | 
M Lee Hendrie for LB Alan Wright | 64’ | 
W David Ginola for M Ian Taylor | 74’ |

Unused Substitutes |

GK Peter Enckelman
FB Jlloyd Samuel

Cards | 

 Yellow | George Boateng | 55’ |

Team Stats |

Starting XI Average Age | 28.90 | 

Oldest Player | M Paul Merson | 32.96 |

Youngest Player | M Gareth Barry | 20.02 |

Match Report

The Guardian

Sunday, 25 February, 2001

Match Report by Nick Callow

Burton gem detaches Villa 

The Villa fans who yesterday enjoyed taunting Derby about going down should get a fright when they look at the Premiership table today. Doomed Derby are only two points behind their Midlands rivals and moving in the right direction. 

This match was billed as one Derby had to win to ease their relegation fears, but maybe the onus was more on Villa. With only two wins from their previous 13 matches, Villa’s chances of being sucked in at the bottom were beginning to look greater than any hopes of European qualification. 

They seemed mindful of their plight when they started the match as if it were their last. The positive approach nearly paid off with a goal in the opening seconds, but Dion Dublin headed narrowly over the bar from Paul Merson’s cross. 

That Villa duo did not make the first squad of watching England manager Sven-Göran Eriksson, but they had done enough to spark Villa into life as they dominated the start. 

Derby, playing three up front, were being overrun in midfield, and rarely threatened early on. Villa, meanwhile, had a sharper edge to their play and Dublin went close again on the half-hour from an Alan Wright cross. 

Perhaps Villa were having it too easy - because they suddenly went all narcoleptic and could have been three goals down in the next five minutes. Sloppy Villa passing twice gifted Branko Strupar one-on-one chances against David James and the Belgian’s poor, almost embarrassing, finishing resulted in easy saves. 

But James had no chance, in the 41st minute, after Gareth Barry jumped on Deon Burton to concede a penalty. Burton took the spot kick himself and sent James the wrong way. 


After all that, Villa could have equalised on the stroke of half-time when Dublin hit a 25-yard volley against a post and the ball rebounded on to Oakes and off for an unlikely corner. 

Villa’s £9.5million signing Juan Pablo Angel had been so off the pace that he was at the heart of Derby’s best play in the first half . So it was no surprise that John Gregory replaced him with Julian Joachim for the start of the second. 

More perplexing was how Villa’s George Boateng was only booked for a 54th minute dust-up with Derby’s Seth Johnson, who had his shirt collar ripped from his neck and was also cautioned for his tackle which started the row. 

That entertaining episode could not make up for the lack of action on the ball, though. Villa remained slightly the better team, but Derby seemed resigned and just about capable of defending their lead.

The Guardian

Sunday, 25 February, 2001

Match Report by Stephen Bierley

Gregory banishes his earthbound Angel

A day of milestones and millstones for Aston Villa while as far as Derby County were concerned, a grey-haired woman in the main stand, who could barely bring herself to watch the final 10 minutes, cogently summed up the relief provided by three vital points: “We were rubbish but we don’t care.”

This was John Gregory’s third anniversary as manager of Villa, which given his chairman’s past record might be viewed as a long-term stay. But if Gregory has a guardian angel watching over his relationship with Doug Ellis, it most certainly is not called Juan Pablo.

Here is an Angel who fears to tread in the penalty box, and who was pulled off by Gregory at half-time, all £9.5m worth of him, “for his own good”. Rumours that the Colombian may return to River Plate this summer have already been denied, but on Saturday he looked as forlorn as a cat in the rain.

“Pablo is desperately short of confidence. He’s probably too keen to impress and is not doing the simple things, but he’s got to dig in and he can’t run away from it; he’s got to face it head on,” said Gregory, while expressing the trenchant view that even allowing for “the amount of time the ball is in the air” in the Premiership, six games should have seen the goalless striker settle in by now.

It might also be argued that three years is long enough for a manager to get a firm grip on a club, but this has been a poor season for Villa, wretchedly poor considering their European ambitions. 


For long periods, and almost the whole of the second half, they dominated Derby without ever looking convincing, although Andy Oakes saved well from Dion Dublin and Angel’s substitute, Julian Joachim. 

There had been much chuntering in Birmingham that Sven-Goran Eriksson, present at this match, had chosen to ignore both Paul Merson and Gareth Barry. On this performance the England manager’s decision was vindicated. Barry clumsily felled Deon Burton, who duly scored the penalty, and Merson, although he never gave up looking for the ball, rarely hit a decent pass. 

As for David Ginola, he was brought on too late. It could be argued that Gregory distrusts flair, unless it is directly related to sweat. If Merson has an off day, and if Ginola is not present, the Villa midfield is distinctly guileless. Angel was clearly used to having the ball at his feet in South America, while Dublin’s head remained the prime target for Villa’s midfield save for Merson. 

Branko Strupar, who began the season so well, but who has just returned from a prolonged spell of injury, had the chances to make the game safe for Derby by half-time, but he is clearly not match fit. “Then we allowed Villa, like we have so many teams this season, to take control,” said Craig Burley. “We stopped going forward and just defended deeper and deeper.” 

Fortunately Derby defended well - notably Danny Higginbotham, who made a number of excellent tackles and interceptions. But against a team with a more clinical cutting edge than Villa, Derby would have been in deep trouble. As it is, they are edging towards safety. 

Villa, who have won only two of their past 14 Premiership matches, taking 11 points from 42, have a heel in the relegation mire, but no more. A bit more devil, and considerably more genuine Angel, should see them step clear.